Juanita Silva takes the reins of the Belen Farmers Market

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The Belen Farmers Market will see another season.

Juanita Silva, a vendor with the market for four years, will be spearheading the event this year and for many years to come, she said.

Silva was chosen out of eight applicants who wanted the market manager position when, just a month before the season was to begin, the market was with out anyone to run it.

The Belen MainStreet Partnership searched high and low to fill the market manager position for about seven months after two market managers left the part-time position for a full-time job.

"I'm excited to jump in," Silva said.

Although, former market director Jennifer Singleterry said a few vendors and community members mentioned they would take over the reins if she couldn't find any qualified applicants or didn't receive any interest in the position, she was worried she wasn't going to find a manager in time.

"It was a sigh of relief," Singleterry said. "I was worried that (the market) wasn't going to happen if we didn't find anybody."

Silva's experience as the Belen chapter Future Farmers of America's treasurer and her own agricultural experience made her stand out among the other applicants. But, Singleterry said, what caught judges' attention was that Silva wanted to push the market to thrive, not simply keep it afloat for one more year.

"She seems like she's really interested in keeping it going and that's the biggest thing really," she said.

Silva plans on getting her feet wet with her position within the market this year and build upon those successes for future improvement.

For the mother of five, farming is what her family does each summer. Her children, including a 21-year-old son, two twin 17-year-old girls and two twin 8-year-old boys, pitch in at the farm by cultivating the land, picking crops and preparing them to be sold at market.

She moved to Belen from Albuquerque 19 years ago because she wanted to live in a small community that allows its residents to farm.

"I never want to move out of Belen. I love Belen and being able to sustain your family with the resources you have at your disposal," she said.

Since then, she's dedicated a half an acre of land in her backyard to gardening, which she uses to feed her family, and helped her children raise livestock for youth development organizations, such as 4-H and FFA.

"The kids have shown everything from poultry, chicken, pheasants, turkey, geese, rabbits, goats to sheep," she said as she counted off each animal on her fingers.

She has an associate's degree in business management and in secondary education, and a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a focus in botany.

Her main interest lies in agricultural education, she said.

The Belen Farmers Market will kick off from 4:30 to 7 p.m. every Friday, from June 7 to Oct. 25 at Anna Becker Park.

For more information about vending at the market, contact market director Juanita Silva at 261-5089.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.